Giving in love: how to make the most of in-memory fundraising

Jo Young By Jo Young

Pre-pandemic, in-memory giving was worth £2 billion a year to British charities. And it’s on the rise. We’re here to help you – and your supporters – make the most of it.

In-memory giving. It’s a phrase thrown around so much it’s become industry jargon. So, what do we actually mean, when we talk about in-mem?

Simply put, it’s one of the oldest and most powerful forms of charity-giving. It’s how many of us come to support charities, and it’s why we hold onto them throughout our lives. We do so because that charity – or that cause – meant something to someone we loved.

That connection is powerful. It’s born out of love.

In some cases, that need to do something to honour that love is what creates charities in the first place.

Take Blood Cancer UK, founded in 1960 in memory of one little girl, Susan. Today, the charity remains rooted in the memories of all those who’ve been lost to blood cancer. In-memory giving is at its core.

But for all charities, there’s scope for in-memory fundraising. And there will always be supporters who want to give.

But in-mem continues to lag behind other income streams – especially legacy fundraising, which though perceived by many as equally sensitive, is securing the future of the charity sector.

In this effort to get legacies right, few charities have devoted the same time – or resources – to really tap into in-mem.

We’re working to change that – and together with our clients, we’re determined to get in-mem right, too. And not just because in-mem income is vital to so many charities’ work, but because when your supporters are grieving, it’s important to do the right thing.

We’ve learnt a few things along the way…

1. People want to give

More and more, people are looking to charities as a meaningful way to remember a loved one. Many give because of how their loved one died, while others want to honour the causes they cared about in life.

Take, for example, our work with WWF. They’re one of those ‘loved-in-life’ charities and our insight showed that their supporters had a sense of in-memory giving as doing the right thing. For many, giving was part of their own personal journey with grief – and a way of concluding unfinished business.

We built an in-memory proposition harnessing that, as well as a supporter journey, sensitive to their needs and motivations.

2. Take time to build the space

In-memory work is about building space and nurturing long-term relationships. Sensitive, appropriate and timely communication are key – and getting it right can secure loyal donors for years.

So too are memory spaces and tribute funds. These online spaces allow supporters to share stories, photos and memories and track how much money they’ve raised. It’s a way of bringing people together – and bringing people back to a cause, sometimes years after a loved one has passed.

They’re a powerful source for giving, especially when backed up by a strong proposition and identity. We worked with the Stroke Association to establish a focussed identity for their in-memory work. Centred on one word – compassion – the creative had a real warmth to it, and we brought it to life with a two-year, supporter-led journey and a tribute fund.

On top of that, we redesigned their Mother’s Day campaign (which became Father’s Day, too), giving people a powerful way to remember a parent.

We also produced a training pack to empower internal teams to talk about in-mem. After all, if you’re going to have a long-term supporter journey, your colleagues need to be comfortable talking about this emotive – and sometimes daunting – form of giving.

3. Keep it personal

In-memory giving is unlike any other. It’s incredibly personal and we have to honour that. But ultimately, in-mem supporters want to fundraise for you – we just have to make it easier.

Allowing supporters to personalise their fundraising efforts is key – that’s what we did with the MND Association. We used our Social Pops platform to create personalised videos for the supporter to share, and the result was an email click through rate (CTR) of 38% compared to their usual CTR of around 3-4%.

4. Start with the basics

Building your in-mem fundraising capacity might seem like a daunting task. But the trick is to start with the basics.

Speak to your supporters and develop a proposition. That's your why – the reason to give. Use that to build confidence within your organisation and break through the nervousness around in-memory giving.

Then go back to your supporters, inspire them – and make it easy for them to give.

If you take the time to get it right, you might even find that your in-memory donors become your most loyal advocates.

So why not get in touch? We’d love to work with you.

Jo Young

Jo Young

Copywriter We love having Jo in the copy team – she’s a fiercely intelligent and strikingly creative writer, and she’s already stunning us with her big ideas. Jo is passionate about the charity sector which, combined with her impressive knowledge of the education world, makes her the perfect creative for so many of our clients.